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John Harbaugh calls new kickoff rule a “yawner”

Ravens head coach Harbaugh chats with referee Leavy while playing against the Eagles in a NFL preseason football game in Philadelphia Pennsylvania Reuters

In Thursday night’s preseason opener between the Ravens and the Eagles, six of seven kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.  And so Baltimore coach John Harbaugh (who spent years as a special-teams coordinator) isn’t a fan of the new rule that moves the kickoff point from the 30 to the 35.

[I]t was just a yawner,” Harbaugh said Sunday, per Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun. “I wasn’t very impressed with it the first week.”

Harbaugh also doesn’t necessarily buy the notion that moving the kickoff point will make kickoff returns safer.  “We’ve done a lot of homework on that and what causes the concussions in our building,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’ll be looking forward to the offseason and share some of that with the Competition Committee.”

Meanwhile, Harbaugh thinks that the new rule could actually increase the risk of injury on kickoffs, if teams decide to try to do more than simply settle for a touchback.  By kicking the ball high and dropping it inside the 10, the receiving team could end up trapped inside the 20.

“I think teams will do that,” Harbaugh said. “When you’re coming from the 35-yard line, you are on top of that returner.  It is scary how fast you can be on top of that returner.  So, I think teams are going to try to drive pop it up inside the 10 and see if they can go smash the returner inside the 15.  That will definitely be a strategy.”

Regardless of whether the kicking team opts for a touchback or successfully pins the opponent inside the 20, it will definitely contribute to a reduction in scoring.

And that will make for a lot more yawning.

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48 Responses to “John Harbaugh calls new kickoff rule a “yawner””
  1. tfbuckfutter says: Aug 14, 2011 10:45 PM

    “We’ve done a lot of homework on that and what causes the concussions in our building,” Harbaugh said.

    —————————————

    Everyone knows Hines Ward hitting people who aren’t paying attention with his helmet causes 90% of concussions in the NFL.

  2. bennyd720 says: Aug 14, 2011 10:50 PM

    Touchbacks are lame…move the ball back to where it was, but keep the 5 yard run-up rule; like that matters anyway. It’ll be like having cake and eating it too; The excitement stays yet you also appear to care about safety LOL

  3. jbeatzz says: Aug 14, 2011 10:54 PM

    it was a dumb uneeded change to the rules

  4. hoobsher says: Aug 14, 2011 10:55 PM

    and i call john harbaugh “a sensible guy”

  5. cassrangers says: Aug 14, 2011 10:55 PM

    does anyone disagree?

  6. bears0492 says: Aug 14, 2011 10:57 PM

    This rule is terrible. I don’t know why Goodell insists on these rule changes…if it aint broke, leave it alone.

  7. oxnardcalif says: Aug 14, 2011 10:58 PM

    NFL…. quit effing with the rulebook…….

  8. supashug says: Aug 14, 2011 10:58 PM

    an intelligent coach makes sensible statements

  9. thenofunleague says: Aug 14, 2011 11:00 PM

    … he’s right …

  10. ottomanismydog says: Aug 14, 2011 11:03 PM

    this reminds of when the NBA switched to a patten-leather ball

  11. ctattles says: Aug 14, 2011 11:04 PM

    Yea they should go back to the old rule.

    Preventing a few concussions a year just isn’t worth ruining the most exciting play in all of sports.

  12. bearfan51 says: Aug 14, 2011 11:05 PM

    Yawning? Johnny Knox had no problems returning kicks… And he is the SECOND best returner Chicago has.

    Maybe Harbaugh should find a better returner.

  13. dclogicatlast says: Aug 14, 2011 11:08 PM

    Stop trying to advocate the NFL turns into Arena football.

    The Arena bowl had over 140 points scored, and the game was won on its final play. It’s excitement level? Still 0.

  14. Deb says: Aug 14, 2011 11:09 PM

    Harbaugh is right. Goodell talks a lot about making safety-related changes. But he doesn’t seem to value the role of data in determining what is and isn’t safer. Does the league intend to study what impact, if any, this change has on injuries in kick-return coverage? And if the impact is negligible, will they rescind the rule change? It would be a shame to limit the potential to return kicks if doing so doesn’t achieve the desired result.

  15. rev279 says: Aug 14, 2011 11:17 PM

    “So, we’ll be looking forward to the offseason and share some of that with the Competition Committee.”

    Is there a reason why they are going to wait until the offseason to share what might be causing concussions with the Comp. Committee? Besides trying to gain an advantage this year.

  16. timtheenchanter1 says: Aug 14, 2011 11:26 PM

    bearfan51 says: Aug 14, 2011 11:05 PM

    Yawning? Johnny Knox had no problems returning kicks… And he is the SECOND best returner Chicago has.

    Maybe Harbaugh should find a better returner.
    ———————–

    The ONLY return in the game was made by a Ravens player who took the ball from 5-6 yards deep in the end zone and still made it out past the 20. However, most of the kicks were going out the back of the end zone or at least 8-9 yards deep. They were simply unreturnable.

    The only reason Knox had his return was because Buffalo’s kicker couldn’t put the ball into the end-zone. Most half-way decent professional kickers should be able to put it 5 yds deep or more now, which means what is normally an exciting play has been removed from the game.

    Given the quality of the Bears’ return game with guys like Knox and Hester, you should be more upset than most teams about this stupid rule change because it’s going to neutralize one of your potential advantages.

  17. nflstatsblog says: Aug 14, 2011 11:26 PM

    Touchbacks, so far, have been up 17.2%. That’s enough to make the game more boring, but not enough to have any sort of drastic effect on potential injuries.

    The NFL seems to be hurting the game only in a half-hearted effort to prevent injuries. There will always be injuries in the game. If they can be prevented, then fine, do what you need to. But I don’t see this rule as having any sort of legitimate impact on decreasing injuries.

    http://www.nflstatsblog.com/2011/08/how-new-kickoff-rule-played-out-in-week.html

  18. bearfan51 says: Aug 14, 2011 11:27 PM

    blah blah blah… Listening to these people cry about their returner now catching the ball at the goal line and not the 5yd line. I have seen plenty of kicks taken out of the End-Zone and returned to the opponents side of the field and few go for touchdowns…

    oh wait…

    I am watching D. Hester run into the record books because I am Bear fan…

    The rest of the NFL should quit making excuses for having sh!tty special teams.

  19. plax18 says: Aug 14, 2011 11:31 PM

    Goodell chalks up yet another win in his attempt to ruin the game

  20. joeflaccosunibrow says: Aug 14, 2011 11:39 PM

    I say move the ball back to the 30 and have the team line up on the 30, except the kicker. If there is no run-up, it will take them longer to get to full speed. The slower they are running, the less powerful the impact.

    That will keep the prospects of a kick return yet limiting the top speed from these guys.

  21. greasygoat says: Aug 14, 2011 11:42 PM

    I think he should ask Kevin Everette or Eric LeGrand if they think the kickoff rule is a yawner.

  22. ugaboogaloo says: Aug 14, 2011 11:43 PM

    Just use flag football rules on kickoffs.

  23. freedomispopular says: Aug 14, 2011 11:43 PM

    At this point, they’d be better off just not even having kickoffs and just starting at the 20 every time.

  24. dumbaseinstien says: Aug 15, 2011 12:00 AM

    @ tfbuckfutter

    So, what you’re saying is that you’re a scared panzy? That’s what I heard.

  25. wolfbrthr13 says: Aug 15, 2011 12:05 AM

    bearfan51 says: Aug 14, 2011 11:27 PM

    blah blah blah… Listening to these people cry about their returner now catching the ball at the goal line and not the 5yd line. I have seen plenty of kicks taken out of the End-Zone and returned to the opponents side of the field and few go for touchdowns…

    oh wait…

    I am watching D. Hester run into the record books because I am Bear fan…

    The rest of the NFL should quit making excuses for having sh!tty special teams.

    The bears obviously don’t agree with the rule because they blatantly ignored it twice.

  26. snnyjcbs says: Aug 15, 2011 12:24 AM

    All they did was take out one of the most exciting plays in Football from the game. You can be safer yet and do not even have a Kickoff, just have the Teams start out on the 20 yard line. That way you will not have the risk of injury from players having to run down the field for nothing which is what they are doing with the new rule.

    It is like having a great man build up an empire only to pass on and see it destroyed by his kids, the ones that had nothing to do with building the sport. Tell these NEW Rich Businessmen to keep their hands off the game of Football that was built long ago. They are turning the game into a JOKE.

  27. snnyjcbs says: Aug 15, 2011 12:26 AM

    One last thing, I hope the Steeler’s Players keep playing the game the way it was always meant to be played. They are the last of the real Football Players.

  28. chobes68 says: Aug 15, 2011 12:43 AM

    They’re trying to make this game safer, but until they make it flag football, there’s not much they can do.

    Seems to me that most of the guys getting multiple concussions and eventually doing very bad things to themselves play along the line, and not on special teams.

    Its not the once in awhile shot that does them in, its the repeated headshots, each and every game, that f’s them up.

    All this does it take some luster off the game.

    Every game will go this this at some point.

    5 minutes of commercials
    6 secs for kicker to boot ball out of the end zone
    5 more minutes of commercials.

    How exciting.

  29. chobes68 says: Aug 15, 2011 12:45 AM

    “I think he should ask Kevin Everette or Eric LeGrand if they think the kickoff rule is a yawner.”

    ———-

    It’s football. If they didn’t realize there were severe risks, they should have picked up golf.

    Not to be insensitive, but its like saying, he never would have been run into by the drunk driver, if he never got his license to drive.

  30. tatum064 says: Aug 15, 2011 1:00 AM

    greasygoat says:
    Aug 14, 2011 11:42 PM
    I think he should ask Kevin Everette or Eric LeGrand if they think the kickoff rule is a yawner.

    ==============================
    I might remind you that everything is relative. Consider the soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan….which job/rule is more dangerous?

  31. jasncondit says: Aug 15, 2011 1:05 AM

    How about this as a rule. If the kicking team puts the ball out the back of the endzone for an automatic touchback the ball is placed at the 20 yard line. If the ball does not go out the back of the endzone and the returner kneels down, the ball is placed at the 10 yard line! Makes the player have to return it.

  32. blackandpurple52 says: Aug 15, 2011 1:12 AM

    because billy cundiff kicks it 7 yards in the end zone every time anyway…

  33. ravenscaps48 says: Aug 15, 2011 1:18 AM

    …… Why not just get rid of kickoffs altogether and just place the ball on the 20

  34. rjkilla says: Aug 15, 2011 1:46 AM

    it may come as a surprise but there’s more to football than scoring points…i for one would love to see teams kicking high and trying to smash fools

  35. seytonmanning says: Aug 15, 2011 1:53 AM

    You mean the same john harbaugh that has been covering up concussions with his players since he became coach of the ravens? I wouldn’t take anything he says about concussions to seriously until the nfl looks more closely into how he doesent list players who have clearly received concussions on his roster. Let’s see if Todd Heap can avoid being put on the concussion list now that he’s a Cardinal. I doubt it. Eventually harbaugh will have to answer for it by the nfl since rumours are people have taken notice.

  36. scytherius says: Aug 15, 2011 2:28 AM

    Horrible rule change Utterly idiotic.

  37. Eric Fay says: Aug 15, 2011 4:07 AM

    ummmmm… why do we have to wait until next season to change the rule back? can’t we do it now before the season starts?

    and…
    bearfan51 says: Aug 14, 2011 11:05 PM

    “Maybe Harbaugh should find a better returner.”

    @bearfan51
    don’t the 49ers have Ted Ginn? i’m not a fan of either the Niners or Ted Ginn, but he’s one of the better returners in the NFL, i’m fairly sure.

  38. 1phd says: Aug 15, 2011 5:09 AM

    They say they did it for safety. Balderdash. Let the kicking team players, except the kicker, stay back on the 30 then so they don’t have a head start in getting down the field to rip off someone’s head. If you’re really concerned with safety just give each team the ball at the 20 after a score. Or outlaw the dangerous aspect kick returns, whatever it is, like no blocks of a certain kind allowed, SOMETHING besides this ‘yawner.’ You CAN’T make the game perfectly safe and yes even if kick returns are the most dangerous aspect, just frickin’ let them play and stop mucking with this.

  39. hunter300win says: Aug 15, 2011 7:53 AM

    @tfbuckfutter
    Why are there defenses playing and not paying attention.

    @ericfay
    its the harbaugh of the ravens the story is about.

    @bearfan51
    D Hester is the best however any respectable kicker can pit it 9 yards deep are farther thus neutralizing your biggest weapon.

  40. arbiterflick says: Aug 15, 2011 8:01 AM

    Oh come on.

    I don’t like the rule change either, but isn’t it funny that Harbaugh suddenly thinks touchbacks are a “yawner”, now that Billy Cundiff’s ridiculous leg isn’t going to be giving the Ravens more than everybody else.

    If he thinks touchbacks are so boring he could have told Cundiff to dial it back a little over the last few seasons.

  41. sj39 says: Aug 15, 2011 8:26 AM

    Umm, they used to kick from the 35. All they did was change the rule back to where it was in the first place.

  42. vikefan says: Aug 15, 2011 9:00 AM

    …………i totally agree

  43. ravens26 says: Aug 15, 2011 9:11 AM

    This sucks, bring back last years rule!

  44. steelersmichele says: Aug 15, 2011 10:45 AM

    tfbuckfutter says: Everyone knows Hines Ward hitting people who aren’t paying attention with his helmet causes 90% of concussions in the NFL.

    Maybe they should be paying attention when they’re on the field.

  45. melikefootball says: Aug 15, 2011 10:49 AM

    I always feel Harbaugh is crying about something that doesn’t go his way BUT I have to AGREE with him on this rule change.

  46. Deb says: Aug 15, 2011 11:29 AM

    @greasygoat …

    Don’t think I breathed the entire time Everett was on the field, and my heart breaks for LeGrand. But I’ve never heard either of them suggest changing the kickoff rules. Have you? And what evidence do you have that their injuries wouldn’t have occurred under these new conditions?

  47. vickismydogg says: Aug 15, 2011 2:31 PM

    I hate the new rule. I agree, it makes punts boring, and punt returns virtually impossible. I guess this is the end of the road for Devon Hester…

  48. hunter300win says: Aug 17, 2011 9:08 AM

    vickismydogg says:
    Aug 15, 2011 2:31 PM
    I hate the new rule. I agree, it makes punts boring, and punt returns virtually impossible. I guess this is the end of the road for Devon Hester…

    You do realize that the punt still happens from where the teams drive stalled right.
    This new rule was for Kickoffs.
    HA

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